Young emigrant from Fukushima makes a visit to her lost home in Naraha 「実家、見学」:楢葉出身の大学生が語る家族・ふるさと・原発事故について

An abandonned house in Naruha
An abandonned house in Naruha

Tomoko, an university student living in Nagano, a former resident of Naraha town, published a message on her FB page in Feburary 2015, right after her short visit to her hometown. WNSCR translated the message into English.


About Naraha:

Currently all of the 7450 residents are in evacuation, as well as the town office and other municipal functions. Houses and farmland have been abandoned since 2011 after the evacuation order, and residents are allowed only occasional visits to take care of their houses. At this point of time, temporary construction/decontamination workers are the only people who work in the town. 

In Naraha, there is the Fukushima Daini (No 2.) nuclear power plant, as well as “J-village”, an emergency assistance training centre, which is planned to be one of the main training centres for the 2020 Olympic Games. It has been chosen to play a main role in the prefectural reconstruction/recovery plan; the entry-restriction ban is going to be lifted in spring 2015, which means that residents supposedly will be able to live there again.  Both national and municipal governments have been working to prepare infrastructure for the residents.  


The website of Fukushima prefecture about Naraha town, with a reconstruction/recovery vision:



[Pictures above: In the deserted town, construction workers were working in the residential areas, decontaminating and demolishing damages houses. 


I was visiting Fukushima for a while. 

My family, my homeland, the nuke accident.

I went to see our house.


Our house is located in Naraha town, 15 km away from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear PP. 

This spring, residents will be allowed to live in the town again. 


My family was evacuated individually and we ended up living in different places. 

We rented an apartment in Iwaki near my high school, and I lived there alone. 

After my graduation, we have kept the apartment as a base camp, which we will use to prepare for visits to our house or for doing something around there.

Usually, nobody lives there. 


Returning home doesn't mean that I have a family to visit or that I get to go to my real home. I go to this apartment room, where I stay alone.

I myself wonder why I come to Fukushima. To do what? 


My pretext was visiting my home town or that I was going to visit my family. That’s a lie. 

I can’t go to our house. I don’t see my family. 


It’s been 4 years, but my family cannot decide what to do for the future. 

We have been swinging between home-sick expectations that it may be possible to live again in our house in Naraha, and the reality of the current situation in the town. 


In the coming spring, Naraha will supposedly be able to take residents again. 

Will people really live there? Can they really live there? 

While we have been ignored, the re-construction plan has been pushed, ever repeating that the accident has been settled!


I hadn’t been seen my home for such a long time, that I forgot all.

I forgot how I was living here.

I forgot if this was really our house. 

I can’t recall anything. I forgot, I forgot all. 


…I want to live. 

I want to change this loss into hope, 

looking only forward, and to live my life. 


By Tomoko Matsumoto












Tomoko Matumoto

[Pictures above: Walking in the street with no sign of life. Weeds grow giant in the abandoned town.


[Pictures above: Next to the town office building, there was a newly built supermarket with a small restaurant.  So-called "recovery support supermarket" serves construction workers who do decontamination work. Radioactive soil that was produced by decontamination has been stored in vinyl bags and placed in the fields (temporary storage areas) all over the town.



[Pictures above: Tomoko and friend in the back yard of Tmoko's house. The house has been takes cared by her Tomoko's mother. In Tomoko's room, her piano, which she used to play every day, stands quietly. They found some food inside a newly bought refrigerator, left from the family gathering (This year, Tomoko's family and relatives had been permitted to spend some nights in her Naraha house to celebrate the new year).


(Tomoko's message was translated by WNSCR team, all the pictures courtesy of Tomoko Matsumoto. 松本さんの文章訳WNSCR、写真は松本さん提供)

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